Very little about yesterday was good. If you haven’t heard, then it falls to me to let you know that Joe “Vito” Albanese, 52, and Drew “Schmootzi The Clod” Keriakedes, 45, were killed yesterday by an angry and ill man with a gun.
Both played with the band God’s Favorite Beefcake. Both were well loved by my friends and my community. I can’t make any claims to knowing them, and it wrecks me that I won’t have the chance. So many of my friends have shared a pint, a pitcher, a keg, and an evening with one or the other that it almost seemed an inevitability that at some point I would too. Now all I’ll ever be able to say is that whenever I saw them perform, I was among friends and happy.
Yesterday was full of death. In addition to Drew and Joe, we lost two unnamed patrons at Cafe Racer and Gloria Koch Leonidas, a married mother of two. Five. Five folks by one gun. And it’s so easy to withdraw, to hide, when confronted by such bad, irrational, math. That was my response last night. I holed up, played music from HONKers and the circus, kept my own counsel. It was celebratory and sad and right for me. What gave me some peace–the one good thing about yesterday–was that for those who wanted to gather in the company of others, who wanted the comfort of their community, our great family was still there.
The mourning was mostly happening in the front yard, within sight of Cafe Racer, and it was intense. Many of the people there were show people—musicians, actors, acrobats, vaudevillians. [...]
People brought instruments and started playing in the middle of the street between Cafe Racer and D’s house. Orkestar Zirkonium played Balkan-style brass songs that oscillated between gleeful and doleful and sounded something like this. It was the closest thing to a New Orleans jazz funeral I’ve ever seen in Seattle—a pack of musicians showing up spontaneously, blowing their horns and banging their drums with tears streaming down their faces.
Some folks played violin dirges. One man did a handstand, circus-acrobat style, in the middle of the band, doing midair splits and slowly gyrating his legs. Two women sat on the shoulders of others and harmonized an Appalachian song that made pretty much everyone cry. An accordion trio played some of one of the slain’s songs and the crowd sang along.
People also brought large paper lanterns, the kind with a little rectangle of fuel you can ignite and then wait until the paper fills up, let it go, and watch it sail. People cheered as each balloon went up.
Today, I’m a little better. Today I want company. I want to revel in my community, find some small solace with my friends. I think I am ready, today, for HONK! Fest West to begin.
In honor of Drew and Joe, we are planning two memorial events during HONK! Fest West. The first will take place at the start of the procession from Oxbow Park to Georgetown at 5:45 on Friday night. There will be 60 seconds of silence at 5:44pm, followed by the joyous noise of HONK! marching down the street. The second will be on Sunday at Seattle Center, a proper second line sendoff. We will exit EMP at 4pm as a mass band playing this piece.
We invite you join us in honoring their memories though silence and the most raucous noise we can create. Come HONK with us.
Let me leave you with some music. Thank you Drew and Joe, and may you both find peace. Hello G’Bye.